I have been frequenting Duendé for a few years now. Thanks to Duendé, I have developed a sincere love of tapas and sangiovese wine, and have strong memories that are set in Duendé. A had three prestigious achievements to celebrate on this occasion so it was my time to dote and take her out to celebrate. She was given free-rein to pick wherever she wanted, and her first choice was Duendé.
Set on the corner of Newcastle Street and Carr Place in Leederville, Duendé is the fork in the road. The restaurant is very pretty from the outside, and it follows through to the inside. I was intrigued to head back to Duendé after their recent renovations. The place has always looked great however the space inside was quite limited due to the old booths on the side walls. Now, they have taken those booths away and opened the space up, allowing for more tables and chairs to occupy their small restaurant. The bar has also been extended so there’s more room to sit around the bar and have a relaxed beverage. The windows surrounding the venue have been replaced with foldable doors which allow the venue to be opened up. Duendé is now also open for breakfast, which is a new addition to Duendé that occurred after the renovations.
A and I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, so there’s never any point in buying a bottle of wine at restaurants between the two of us. Duendé has an extensive wine list which features wines from all over the world. If going in a group, I would normally order a bottle of sangiovese, as this red is perfect with tapas style dishes. After having a discussion with the waitress about the wines by the glass, I decided to take her suggestion of the house red (Duendé tinto de la casa ’09 – $8.50 per glass or $28 for 0.5ltr) as she mentioned that the owner picks the house wine and on this occasion it was a highly recommended Spanish wine. I ended up having two of these during the night, as the wine was light and very flavoursome – perfect to accompany tapas style plates. If wine isn’t your caper, Duendé also does home-made sangria which I have been told is very good.
Duendé also has an extensive food menu and there is something for everyone. We decided to order three dishes to start – sweetcorn and manchego croquettes ($12), grilled squid with citrus and piquillo pepper ($14) and the pumpkin ravioli with sweet’n sour onions and broccolini ($18).
The sweetcorn and manchego croquettes were really good. They were lightly crumbed on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. The manchego, a Spanish cheese, went perfectly with the sweetcorn, and the outside of the croquettes were crumbed with flour and Panko crumbs, which are japanese style breadcrumbs. These croquettes are a definite must-try at Duendé.
Our second dish arrived and it was the grilled squid with citrus and piquillo pepper. The flavour of this dish was perfect as the piquillo pepper was well-balanced with the citrus. The squid was cooked well and the serving size was just. Another lovely dish.
The pumpkin ravioli dish has been passionately spoken about by a few work colleagues so I was very eager to try them. The pasta was great quality and it tasted as if it was just made. The pumpkin in the middle was seasoned well, so it had great flavour in contrast to the pasta. I have to admit that I didn’t particularly enjoy the combination of flavours that the sweet’n sour onions provided against the ravioli. However, the broccolini was a great accompaniment as it was light and made the pumpkin ravioli seem less heavy.
We decided to order two more tapas dishes, the sticky pork belly bites ($8) and the prawn and chorizo paella balls with paprika aioli ($14) and then try the chicken and preserved lemon tagine with cous cous ($23).
The prawn and chorizo paella balls were the first to arrive in this lot. Unfortunately, both A and I thought these paella balls were a bit tasteless – there was no seasoning in the paella balls and I couldn’t taste the prawn or the chorizo. The paprika aioli didn’t add any flavour either however the dish was beautifully presented.
The sticky pork belly bites were out next and this was probably the best dish of the night. The pork bites were glazed in a delicious sweet sauce and the belly was soft and melted away easily. There was a small mountain of pork bites and at the end of this dish we were feeling very full.
The tagine was out next. A and I love tagines as it reminds us both of our Middle Eastern and European adventures, as we were often searching for a tasty tagines. Duendé’s tagine was cooked really well. The chicken and preserved lemon had lovely flavours and the chicken was cooked perfectly. The cous cous was good however by this stage in the night, we had little room to fit anything else in.
In saying that, I did have a tiny bit more room to try the Doughnut balls with condensed milk ice-cream ($14) after a bit of a food intermission. This dessert was another dish that was raved about by two work colleagues and it was worthy of the hype. The doughnut balls were incredibly light to eat. They were also beautifully coated in sugar and crunchy on the outside. The condensed milk ice-cream was also very good, as the texture was smooth, soft and milky. This was a perfect dish and luckily for me, A let me eat the majority of the ice-cream.
The service throughout the whole night was above par. Each dish came out individually (which I really appreciated) and the knowledge of the waitstaff was phenomenal. We had two waiters the whole evening and normally this would make the service feel disjointed, however at Duendé it was still rhythmic – it was as if they automatically knew where the other left off. I love being able to ask for recommendations from the waitstaff and be told the background on the wine or the dish that they recommend.
By the end of the night, I was feeling very content. The atmosphere of Duendé is comfortable, relaxed and romantic. The service is attentive but not intruding. The background music was pleasant throughout the evening (and at one point, they even played a bit of Thom Yorke) and we both ended up having a great night out.
The bill for the night came to $128 – which I believe was extremely reasonable due to the food and drinks we consumed. The food and service at Duendé is continually consistent and is worthy of the price – as the tapas is high quality in taste and ingredients.
You don’t need a special occasion to treat yourself to Duendé – it is a must-try for quality tapas in Perth. Recommended to all.